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Yong-le: Year 4, Month 10, Day 9

19 Nov 1406

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On this day, the Xin-cheng Marquis Zhang Fu, deputy general of the right of the force being sent on expedition to punish Annam, and others, leading the troops, departed from Ping-xiang, passed through Po-lei Pass and offered a sacrifice to the mountains and rivers within the borders of Annam. The spirits were advised of the crimes of the Li bandits, that they had killed the rulers, treated the people harshly, encroached on China's territory and insulted the superior. The Vice Commissioner-in-chief Han Guan was instructed to set up a base below the pass to supervise the government troops arriving from Guang-xi and other areas, the transport of grain, the building of roads, the felling of trees to repair and build bridges and the despatch of mobile troops to spy and patrol.

The Assistant Commissioner -in-chief and Rapid Attack Commander Lu Yi and others were sent forward to Ai-liu Pass as an advance force. Here were found massed over 30,000 of the bandit troops with their backs to the hills and protected by stockades. They had dug ditches, and in defence were firing poison arrows and rolling down stones and logs. Yi supervised the troops in advancing for the attack and the troops proceeded with shields protecting the flanks. They took 40 heads and over 60 captives, and the remaining bandits scattered. With this, the Great Army took the pass and left troops to guard it. Fu transmitted the Emperor's will to the officials and soldiers of Annam as follows:

"Annam is very close to China. When our Gao Emperor Tai-zu received the mandate of Heaven and unified the Empire, your king Chen Ri-kui took the lead in coming to allegiance. A title was conferred upon him and he was bestowed with grace, with the title to be inherited through the family line. After many years thus, the bandit Li Ji-li and his son, who had served as ministers, took power into their own hands. They long looked for the opportunity and finally they killed the ruler and usurped the throne. Ji-li changed his own name to Hu Yi-yuan, changed the name of his son Li Cang to Hu Di, and wildly claimed that he was related to the royal line through marriage. He grew stronger and more powerful and he personally killed his ruler and those in his family. Acting wildly and outrageously, his harshness extended through the whole country. Even the grass, trees, birds and animals could not be at peace. This angered all the spirits of Heaven and Earth.

"When the Emperor first came to the throne, he demonstrated his virtuous power by cherishing those in the distance. The Li bandits, father and son, sent an envoy to the Court and, concealing their crimes, requested orders. Li said that the Chen line had come to an end and that he was the son of a woman of the Chen family and was temporarily handling state affairs. The Court had to act in a sincere way as it did not know of his rebellion and sedition. However, the grandson of the former king of Annam had been forced away and had fled to Laos from whence he came to the capital. He accused Li of crimes and evil doings, which at first the Court did not believe. However, following admissions by the envoys from Annam, his charges were confirmed. The grandson's sorrows were alleviated, but he was unable to forget his dead lord. Following an Imperial letter of instruction, there was the desire to raise an army. When the Li bandit and his son came to know that a descendant of the former king was still alive, they were concerned that an Imperial army would be sent to punish them, and thus they sent an envoy with a plea requesting that the Court forgive them their deceit and transgressions. They requested that the grandson be returned to their country so that they could serve him as their lord. The Court was trusting with no suspicions. It forgave them their former transgressions and was pleased that they were making a new start. Thus, their requests were all granted and the grandson was escorted back to his country by a force of 5,000 troops.

"However, the Li bandit and his son concealed evil hearts. They set up an ambush, impeded the government troops, obstructed the Imperial envoy, captured the grandson of the former king and killed him. When the envoy informed of this, the Emperor was greatly enraged and he ordered the generals to take 800,000 troops to eliminate the rebellious bandits. This army for punishing the tyrannical must make known the truth of these crimes.

The first crime is that Li Ji-li and his son twice killed kings of Annam and seized the country.

The second crime is that the bandits killed virtually all of the male descendants of the Chen line. 

The third crime is that they did not respect the calendar of the Court, changed the dynastic title to Great Yu without authority and recklessly honoured themselves by commencing to use the reign title 'Yuan-sheng' (元聖).

The fourth crime is that they looked on the people of the country as their enemies, imposed excessive punishments and draconian laws, tyrannically killed the innocent, levied exorbitant taxes and exploited endlessly. This resulted in the people having no means to carry on and they went hungry and without clothing. The dead filled the ditches and gullies and many people fled to other areas.

The fifth crime is that although for generations they had been surnamed Li, they turned their backs on their ancestors and took it upon themselves to change their surname.

The sixth crime is that they claimed that they were related to the Chen family and they falsely claimed that they were temporarily handling state affairs, in order to fool the Court.

The seventh crime is that, on hearing that a grandson of the king was in the capital, they deceitfully made a plea requesting that he be returned to the country, so that they could serve him as ministers. The Court forgave their former transgressions and leniently approved their request, but they took advantage of this to carry out their treacherous designs, impeding the Imperial troops and obstructing the Imperial envoy.

The eighth crime is that the grandson of the former king of Annam was driven off and left with little chance of survival. The Emperor, in his benevolence and sagacity, pitied him and looked after him, provided him with an escort and sent him back to his own country. However, the Li bandits, both father and son, without feeling any remorse, lured him off and killed him, thus going against Heaven and defying the principles.

The ninth crime is that, although for generations Ning-yuan Subprefecture has been offering tribute to China, the Li bandits, relying on strength, snatched away seven of its stockades, assumed control over the people and took prisoners of its men and women.

The tenth crime is that they also killed Dao Meng-man, the son-in-law of the native official Dao Ji-han and carried off the latter's daughter Nang Yi. They then used force to levy taxes of silver and made all sorts of corvee demands.

The eleventh crime is that they have caused the native officials of various areas to flee and have made corvee labor demands, and have despatched soldiers to search for and capture yi, causing them to all flee in alarm.

The twelfth crime is that they have occupied the territory of Lu Subprefecture, Xi-ping Subprefecture and Yong-ping Stockade in Si-ming Prefecture and that, when an envoy of the Court went to demand its return, they artfully prevaricated and only handed over less than two- or three-tenths of the original land.

The thirteenth crime is that after they handed back the land, they again sent bandits to occupy Xi-ping Subprefecture, to rob and kill the officials appointed by the Court, and they again planned to attack Guang-xi.

The fourteenth crime is that when Zhan-ba Di-lai, the king of the country of Champa, had just suffered the death of his father, they raised troops and attacked Jiu-zhou, Ge-lie and other places in Champa.

The fifteenth crime is that they further attacked four administrative divisions in Champa, including Ban-da-lang, Bai and Hei (Alt: and Bai-hei) and plundered all of the people's livestock.

The sixteenth crime is that they also sent troops against Champa, taking away over 100 elephants and then proceeded on to Zhan-sha and Li-ya.

The seventeenth crime is that although Champa is a feudatory subject of China, and had received a seal and robes from the Court, the Li bandits produced their own silver seal plated in gold, a "jiu-zhang" (九章) crown and robes, a jade belt and so on, and forcibly bestowed these on the king.

The eighteenth crime is that they rebuked the king of Champa for honouring China and not revering Annam, and in this year attacked Champa twice.

The nineteenth crime is that when the Imperial envoy returned to Champa with the envoy of that country, the Li bandits sent soldiers to rob them in Shi-pi-nai Port.

The twentieth crime is that they showed deceit and lack of respect when sending tribute to China. They did not send an attendant minister, but selected criminals, pretended they were officials and sent them as envoys.

These are the major crimes. The others cannot all be listed. The crimes of the Li bandits, both father and son, indicating their lack of respect as ministers, reach to Heaven and extend without end. The Heavenly principles will not tolerate this. The people of the various countries have seen great suffering year after year and they are to be pitied.

"The sending of the Imperial troops is intended to console your people in their suffering and restore the Chen family. The generals and troops are under strict instructions not to commit even the slightest crime. They will safely guard things as they were before. Do not be falsely frightened or suspicious. The officials who have followed the Li bandits, but who did so through coercion, not because they wished to, can remain in their offices. None of them will be punished. If some of the cohorts who plotted with the Lis are now able to change their ways and forthwith become loyal ministers, they too will be permitted to start anew and take up their original posts. As for the people of various countries who have visited Annam to trade and have been arrested, they can all go to the commander-in-chief and declare themselves. They will then be escorted back to their own countries. Those who wish to remain to carry on trading will be allowed to do so.

"If anyone in the country can bring prosperity to the country by capturing the Li bandits, both father and son, alive, and sends them to the commander-in-chief, they will be given bountiful honours and rewards. As to those who are stupid and do not repent, but assist the evil ones in opposing orders, the Imperial lances will be pointed at them and all of them will be swept away. On the day the Li bandits, both father and son, are captured, then you, the officials, generals and elders will gather together and choose one of the male descendants of the Chen family and he will again be given the title of king. He will wipe away all the hidden injustice and resolve the suffering of those in the country who are in di.e straits. Above, he will manifest the way of the Emperor, while below he will fulfil the hopes of the people."

Tai-zong: juan 60.1a-4a

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 11, page 0866/71

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/yong-le/year-4-month-10-day-9, accessed November 15, 2019